Before I dive into the prospects, let me talk about some lefties that you know already…
Ike Davis: He appears to be healthy and seems to not be suffering any lingering issues from his ankle injury. He does give me the impression that he’s going to be the most difficult out in the Met lineup but my fingers are still crossed for Wright to come back and show me his 2007/2008 form. We’ll get back to the play later but Ike Davis was part of a SPECTACULAR double play that was started by Josh Satin.
Daniel Murphy: Will he be a passable second baseman? I don’t know, I’m tired of that line of questions anyway. Will he be a solid and formidable hitter? Yes! Murphy has looked pretty sharp in Spring Training. He works the count, sees lots of pitches and makes pitches pay for their mistakes. Should Wright miss time this season I think Murphy is the team’s #3 hitter.
Lucas Duda: Can he handle right field? Yes… we’re having the same discussion with regards to Lucas Duda as we have with Daniel Murphy. Duda’s power and hitting are similarly not in question though I wonder if the pressure to perform with the bat in the absence of defense will be a problem for Duda. I could also see him pressing for power if the team is lacking HRs as it has in recent years.
I talked on Saturday about when Matt Harvey might be ready, but I think the Mets have a pair of players who are probably right on the cusp of demanding immediate playing time. Their names are Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt Den Dekker and they seem to be the future of the Met outfield. HOWEVER… how many lefties could the Mets realistically carry on the starting roster at once? I mean… Davis, Duda, Murphy and Thole are pretty much locked into their roster spots, so… do we give up a balanced lineup to field the best players? My answer would be yes.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: How many times have you heard the announcers coo over how fast Kirk Nieuwenhuis is for a kid of his size? Well Kirk is pretty big… and pretty fast… so get used to it. Nieuwenhuis is NOT going to be Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury or Curtis Granderson. He’s not as fast or as powerful. Most people wonder how long he’d be able to cut it as a center fielder anyway. If Kirk develops well along the current line of progress he could become a near .300 hitter with near 20 HRs and near 20 SBs. Given that I’m used to less than perfect outfielders… I’ll take that.
Matt Den Dekker: I ranked Matt Den Dekker ahead of Kirk Nieuwenuis in my pre-season rankings, but why? Well the answer is that although Matt is the smaller of the two players… he’s the one with the power. He had a very powerful year in the minors in 2011 and still seems to be swinging a good bat. What might confuse people is that Matt Den Dekker is physically the faster of the two players but that Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the better base runner. It’s just one of those odd quirks of baseball mechanics, but I doubt that Matt Den Dekker will ever magically become a 25 SB player. What I do believe is that he will play gold glove defense in center field.
The duo could conceivably push out the incumbent pairing of Jason Bay and Andres Torres by the middle of the year. The perfect storm of events that would bring this about requires Bay to struggle… again and for Torres to probably be hurt. Both Nieuwenhuis and Den Dekker were demoted to minor league camp on Thursday but I think they showed enough in their time with the big squad to rejoin the team before the end of 2012.
Now… this requires some generous If’s… but let us imagine that: David Wright is traded, Reese Havens is healthy, Ruben Tejada isn’t cutting it and Jordany Valdespin is hitting well and holding his own at SS. Right-handed pitching beware!
The Lefty Lineup:
- Jordany Valdespin, SS
- Daniel Murphy, 3B
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis, LF
- Ike Davis, 1B
- Lucas Duda, RF
- Reese Havens, 2B
- Matt Den Dekker, CF
- Josh Thole, C
- (Adam Loewen, DH)
The Met Defensive Play of 2012 Spring Training:
The play in question was a double play that utilized a better arm than I thought Josh Satin had, firing across the mound to Ike Davis who (demonstrating his history as a pitcher) gunned it back across the diamond to Omar Quintanilla. I think this might throw some doubt in my mind into the depth chart at 3rd base. If Satin can be that good at 3rd… he could be a better option than Zach Lutz should Wright be hurt.